Web Chats and Virtual Book Club

VSA's Web Chats and Virtual Book Club are an easy way to expand you visitor studies skills and explore new topics. These online meetings have a specific topic but no set agenda, so participants are free to discuss the things that are relevant to them. The focus is on group sharing and learning.

If you have questions about the Web Chats/Book Club or would like to suggest a topic for our next discussion, please let us know at [email protected].

Upcoming Topics


Learn more about future Professional Development events by subscribing to the VSA listserv or follow VSA on Facebook.  You can also see below for recordings of our past events.

Past Topics and Event Recordings

'Visitor Studies 101' Web Chat: Navigating the Mentor/Mentee Relationship - September 25, 2019

Being a mentor or mentee can be one of the most rewarding experiences at any stage of your career...but how does one go about finding and building these relationships? Please join the Visitor Studies Association on Wednesday, September 25 from 12:00 EST for a web chat discussion about mentorship in the evaluation field. We will be joined by Claire Quimby from Rockman et al, Susan Foutz from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and Jill Stein from JKS Consulting, who will share their own experiences with mentor/mentee relationships. Jill Stein will additionally speak about the key takeaways and survey results from VSA’s 2018 Mentorship pilot program.

Science Self-Efficacy and Lifelong Learning: Emerging Adults in Science Museums - August 27, 2019
A discussion centered on the Screven Memorial - VSA Outstanding Paper Award winner of 2019, "Science Self-Efficacy and Lifelong Learning: Emerging Adults in Science Museums" (Gutwill, 2018). We discussed the special impact museum experiences can have on emerging adults - a demographic group often overlooked in science museums. 

"Measuring how visitors perceive animal well-being in human care" - May 6, 2019
This Web Chat was organized in collaboration with the Zoos and Aquariums FIG. The session considered: How do visitors perceive the well-being of animals in our care? Sometimes the science behind high quality welfare may be at odds with visitor perceptions of welfare, making it important to measure and discuss visitor reactions. 

Visitor Studies 101: Presenting Your Project at VSA's Conference Poster Session - March 21, 2019
Presenting posters is a great way to get involved in conferences without the pressure of a full presentation! This Web Chat discussed the submission process for VSA's 2019 call for posters and provided some tips on creating compelling posters.

Supporting Culturally Responsive Evaluation Practices - February 14, 2019
This Web Chat was organized in collaboration with the Bridging Communities FIG, and focused on ways that VSA, and the visitor studies field more broadly, can build and strengthen culturally responsive, community engaged research and evaluation practices. FIG Co-Chairs Evelyn Christian Ronning (Science Museum Minnesota) and Jill Stein (independent evaluator) will be joined by Dr. Shelly Valdez (Native Pathways) discussed their experience with CRE.

Visitor Studies 101: How Did You Get Your Job? - January 24, 2019
This Web Chat discusses career paths in audience research and evaluation. Attendees heard from experience VSA members on their experiences in the field working at a museum and consulting firm, and discussed various steps in getting a position in the field.

The Digital Impact: How Technology Shapes the Museum Experience - December 4, 2018
This Web Chat was organized in collaboration with the Art Museum FIG and focused on the use of technology in museums and art museums in particular. Discussants from the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and MWA Insights shared their experience evaluating different kinds of digital experiences, from apps, to interactives, to augmented reality.

Visitor Studies 101: Writing Competitive Conference Proposals - October 16, 2018
This Web Chat provides tips on writing successful proposals. Members heard directly from VSA proposal reviewers, who shared their inside knowledge on what makes a focused submission that is likely to receive high marks.

Data Visualization - Share, Brag, Vent! - March 27, 2018
This Web Chat was organized in collaboration with the Data Viz and Reporting FIG. Hosts Lauren Wilson (Illuminated Ideas), Kate Livingston (Expose Your Museum), and Claire Quimby (Rockman et al) discuss data viz tools for timing and tracking, displaying spacial data, and lots of places to get data viz inspiration and tools. 

Developing Instruments for Culturally Responsive Evaluation - February 15, 2018
This Web Chat was organized in collaboration with the Bridging Communities FIG. Participants discussed challenges and strategies for designing instruments that meet the needs of diverse target audiences. Special guests include Ali Mroczkowski and Aaron Price of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago and Stephanie Downey of RK&A.

AAM's LGBTQ Welcoming Guidelines - June 15, 2017
This Web Chat was organized in collaboration with the Bridging Communities FIG. Participants discussed the new Welcoming Guidelines released by the American Alliance of Museums. Renae Youngs of the Minnesota State Arts Board was instrumental in the development of the guidelines and joined the chat as a guest speaker. 

Using Common Measures in Visitor Studies - May 16, 2017
This Web Chat focused on using common measures across multiple institutions/museums. Karen Knutson of the Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out of School Environments, Mac Cannady of the Lawrence Hall of Science, and Ryan Auster of the Museum of Science, Boston all joined as guest speakers to talk about the various projects they have worked on that used common measures - for different purposes, with different tactics, and with different outcomes.

Emotional Engagement in Museums - January 30, 2017
This Web Chat focused on measuring emotional engagement in museums. Guest speaker Gabbie Schlichtmann of EdTogether joined the chat to talk about her own work with children and museum exhibits, finding new ways to understand the role emotion plays in their experience.